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Two small children burst through the trees and barrel down the beach towards the water, their mother trailing behind them. She reaches the perfect spot and gratefully sets down her beach bag and chair. The children are splashing in the water in front of her; sinking into her chair with her book in her hands, she can finally relax. There are no waves, however, and she is not on vacation. They are at their lakefront home on Hutchinson Lake in the north region of Florida, and relaxing on the white sand beach on the lake is something they do almost every weekend.
Hutchinson Lake is a clear spring fed lake in Keystone Heights in Clay County. The 103-acre lake is just a few miles from the Alligator Chain of Lakes which includes Lakes Geneva, Lowry, Magnolia, Brooklyn and Blue Pond connected by Alligator Creek. In the past Lake Hutchinson has gotten water from Lake Geneva but it doesn't today and isn't considered part of the Alligator Chain.
Hutchinson Lake has a sand beach and private clubhouse. It is a popular place to swim, boat, fish and water ski. The lake is surrounded by residential development, and there is real estate available for sale. There are not many lakefront vacation rentals on Hutchinson Lake, but there are several waterfront vacation rentals in the surrounding area. In addition to the Alligator Chain of Lakes, there are several other lakes in Keystone Heights with more than enough water to boat, water ski and fish for largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish.
Named for the "Keystone State," the City of Keystone Heights was established in the early 1920's by settlers from Pennsylvania. The city has shops, restaurants, and museums along with a variety of accommodations. Any amenity a resident might need is easily accessible from Hutchinson Lake. The lake is also near Melrose. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Melrose is "Old Florida" at its best. Originally called "Shakerag" because of the horse races held in the area, the name was changed in 1877 to reflect the Scottish heritage of its settlers. Melrose was predominately a citrus area until the freeze of 1894 killed the trees. There are still buildings from that time left in the Historic District, and 72 of the structures are on the National Register of Historic Places
One of the oldest state parks in Florida, the Mike Roess Gold Head State Park is an easy day trip from Hutchinson Lake. The park is built on what was a 2,000 acres Civilian Conservation Corps and includes trails for hiking and horseback riding. The wildlife is abundant, and the park is home to white tailed deer, gopher tortoises, turkeys, pocket gophers, red tailed hawks, and water and wading birds. The occasional bald eagle even makes an appearance. Campgrounds and cabins including some still showing the CCC's influence provide overnight accommodations.
The area around Hutchinson Lake has vacation rentals and recreation opportunities for visitors. For anyone intending to stay, however, Hutchinson Lake is the ideal choice. With its clear water, white sand beaches and beautiful lakefront homes, it is the perfect north Florida destination and a great place to raise a family.
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